Major themes for the research at IRS are methods for safety analysis, accident investigations, and safety management. Research includes theoretical studies, as well as practical development and applications of methods. Examples of themes are:
● Accident investigations
● Barriers and safety functions
● Safety management on a community level (only documented in Swedish)
Application areas have mainly been occupational and industrial safety, but new areas have emerged such as:
● Patient safety
● Railway safety
● Fire protection (only documented in Swedish)
In Sweden, there is a growing interest in qualified accident investigations, as a resource for improved accident prevention. IRS has been involved in:
● Developing a university course in Advanced accident investigation methodology at Karlstad University, which has been running over several years.
● Comparison of results from event investigation in different fields. Report
● ESReDA had a working group on accident investigations, which has performed a number of activities. One result is Guidelines for Safety Investigations of Accidents.
Barriers and safety functions
The barrier concept is fundamental in the analysis of safety in a system. At IRS, several studies have been devoted to the generalised concept “safety function”: A technical or organisational function, a human action or a combination of these, which can reduce the probability and/or consequences of accidents and other unwanted events in a system.
The safety function concept can be used in accident investigations, in safety analysis methodology, and theoretical considerations. There are about 10 reports in English on this theme.
Patient safety and adverse events in hospital care have got on increasing attention due to the large number of injuries and deaths. IRS has made a study of three near accidents related to use pharmaceuticals in hospital care. The analyses have resulted in nearly 200 suggestions for improvements addressing different organisational levels. Full reports only in Swedish, but results and short English summary is available in “Analysis of Results from Event Investigations in Industrial and Patient Safety Contexts”.
IRS has been involved in a few projects in the railway sector. Examples are:
● Safety rules – “Safety Rule Management in Railways” is a part of the larger European project Safety Management in Railways – SAMRAIL. Within that there is a specific Swedish case study.
● Another study has concerned a structural analysis of safety rules based on the safety function concept.
● IRS has carried through a number of training courses in safety analysis for the Swedish railway sector.